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Deadly fire suspect said he was going to get the apartment back after getting thrown out, detective testifies

A Lakewood PD detective said teen suspects were mad after getting thrown out of an apartment, and at least one sought retaliation before the fire that killed two.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — One of two teens charged in connection to a fire at an apartment building in Lakewood last month that killed a mother and her daughter appeared in court for a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

The boys, who are 12 and 14, were taken into custody Nov. 6 on suspicion of first-degree murder and first-degree arson in the deaths of Kathleen Payton, 31, and her 10-year-old daughter, Jazmine Payton-Aguayo.

>The video above is from Nov. 10.

They died in an Oct. 31 fire at the Tiffany Square apartments, at 935 Sheridan Blvd. In all, 10 people were injured in the fire. Seven people, including a firefighter, were treated and released.

The boys were charged as juveniles with the following on Nov. 10:

  • Two counts of first-degree murder – extreme indifference
  • 39 counts of attempted first-degree murder – extreme indifference
  • 15 counts of first-degree arson
  • One count of felony criminal mischief
  • One count misdemeanor criminal mischief
  • 42 aggravated juvenile offender sentence enhancers

At the hearing Tuesday for the 14-year-old suspect, a Lakewood Police Department detective assigned to the case described surveillance video of the suspects and interviews with the suspect after he turned himself in.

The suspect told investigators that he and the other suspect were kicked out of Apartment 50 around 1 a.m. the morning of the fire, the detective testified.

She said the 14-year-old explained that both of them were mad about getting kicked out of the apartment because it was cold, and because bus routes that would have allowed the 12-year-old to get to alternative shelter weren't running.

Surveillance video from the complex showed two people matching the suspects' descriptions leaving the area of Apartment 50 around 1 a.m., and additional video showed them at the nearby Conoco station before the fire, she testified.

Cameras at the complex captured the same people around 4 a.m. walking towards the dumpsters and the area where Apartment 50 is located, she said. One of the people is then seen ducking behind the dumpster, and then running along the building, with something that appeared to be a bright reflection in his hands, toward Apartment 50 with the other person right next to him.

RELATED: Boys arrested in Lakewood fatal arson won't be charged as adults

The suspect told investigators that the 12-year-old wanted to go back to Apartment 50 because he was angry, and said he was making comments about getting the people in the apartment back and lighting a "big a** fire," the detective said.

He said the 12-year-old had a torch he was using to light fires and eventually lit a pair of pants on fire and threw them onto bushes outside of Apartment 50, according to the detective. The suspect said he tried to pull the pants off of the bush, but the 12-year-old threw them back onto the bushes. He also said the 12-year-old was throwing trash from a nearby dumpster onto the fire.

The suspect then told investigators that they walked to a second-level balcony to watch the flames grow, which the 12-year-old was recording with his phone, and when to flames reached a certain size they got scared and left, the detective said.

The suspect also claimed that he tried to knock on doors to alert residents about the growing flames and call 911 with a disguised voice, but he admitted that he did neither when investigators continued to question his account of the events, the detective testified.

The detective said the suspect tried to put most of the blame on the 12-year-old when speaking to investigators, but she said surveillance video appeared to show the individual who matched the suspect's description taking something from the dumpster and taking it towards the flames.

The judge overseeing the hearing ruled that there was probable cause for the case against the 14-year-old suspect to proceed.

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